Announced in a virtual ceremony today, the 2021 United Nations Population Award individual laureate is Commissaire Hassane Haousseize Zouera from Niger’s police force, and the institutional laureate is the General Directorate of Population of Oaxaca (DIGEPO) in Mexico.
The annual Award, which honours an individual and an institution for their outstanding contributions to population, development and reproductive health, has recognized Commissaire Zouera as a leader in addressing gender-based violence and for her contributions in making Niger a safer place for women and girls. It also recognizes the DIGEPO for its pioneering work on reproductive health and other issues affecting indigenous people in Oaxaca state, Mexico.
Born in 1983, Hassane Haousseize Zouera is the youngest-ever winner of the Award and the youngest woman to reach the rank of Commissaire, or superintendent, in Niger’s police force. Under her leadership, the force has made the protection of migrants, women, children and young people, one of its highest priorities.
Commissaire Zouera was appointed as Head of the Division for the Protection of Minors and Women in January 2020 and coordinates the work of 107 brigades across the country responding to gender-based violence. She has been instrumental in designing and implementing national policies in the area of gender-based violence, creating an electronic database to monitor violence and facilitate case referrals nationwide, and significantly building the capacity of the national police force to combat gender-based violence and support survivors. She has been lauded as a role model and mentor for other women wishing to climb the ranks of public service.
The General Directorate of Population of Oaxaca (DIGEPO), created in 1998 to implement the population policy at the local level in Oaxaca, has earned national recognition for its contributions to Mexican public policies and actions to support and improve the lives of women and girls, vulnerable children and indigenous peoples. Through its technical, advocacy and educational materials, the DIGEPO has contributed positively to addressing critical issues in the country, including gender inequality, adolescent pregnancy and child labour.
Inspirational examples of its work include the “Gender Atlas of Oaxaca,” which reveals gender gaps in the country, allowing the state to document gender inequality and inform policy-making to improve women’s physical, economic and political autonomy. DIGEPO also developed platforms to monitor and prevent adolescent pregnancy in Oaxaca, eliminate sexual violence and promote choices for young people, alongside producing advocacy materials on child labour and HIV prevention.
The Committee for the United Nations Population Award, which made the selections, is chaired by Ion Jinga, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, and is composed of representatives of nine other UN Member States. UNFPA serves as its secretariat.